1Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Society, College of Food and Agriculture Sciences, King Saud University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
2Vice Provost, Utah State University-Eastern, Price, Utah, USA 84501.
Receive Date: 01 June 2015,
Revise Date: 25 December 2016,
Accept Date: 01 June 2016
Agriculture in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has witnessed many phases, from ancient small-scale Bedouin nomadic subsistence agriculture to mass-scale farming to ensure food security and self-sufficiency, to the present-day desire for sustainability. These transitions have made the work of extension staff very challenging. Effective extension work depends upon competent and well-trained agricultural extension staff. This study assessed the competencies of extension workers and identified the training needed to improve their work in the Saudi Agricultural Extension Service (SAES). Demographic information (age, length of service, and education level) was also collected. The study mailed a pre-tested questionnaire to all 250 extension professionals actively involved in extension work, and 181 responses were received. Most agricultural extension workers had qualifications in plant protection, plant production, and general agriculture before entering the Extension Service (19.3, 17.6, and 16.8%, respectively). Only 7.7% had specialized in agricultural extension and agricultural engineering. The study established the need for extensive training programs to enable extension workers to work efficiently and effectively in the changing farming scenario in the Kingdom. Results showed that training needs are correlated with the length of service and educational qualifications. Respondents wanted to have sufficient competency and skill to understand the relationships between the Extension Service and other agriculture related organizations; to understand how mass communication has influenced society; and to enhance their competencies in the area of the teaching-learning process. The primary areas of training needs identified in the survey are in the techniques of research and evaluation, and the teaching-learning process.